Saint Francis Kansas Foster Family of the Year: Lance and Mandy Tally
June 2021 · Foster Care / Adoption, Foster Family Features, Kansas
Licensed more than four years ago, the Tally family didn’t hesitate to wade into the deep end with their first long-term placement – a sibling set of four. Shortly afterwards, they added a fifth placement while the child waited for a kinship assessment. They’ve also fostered a teen, so she could remain in the community until she finished high school. They gave her a car and helped her apply for college and open a bank account. As far as Lance and Mandy are concerned, these actions are all just part of being an advocate for children in their care.
That advocacy involves more than just speaking up for the needs of kids (which they do), but also for supporting healthy and safe reintegration. Developing supportive relationships with each child’s birth parents is essential to their idea of what fostering is all about. Not only do they build relationships during the placement, but they continue them after the child has left their home.
“We’ve exchanged phone numbers and been to each other’s homes,” says Mandy. “We talk regularly, invite them to birthday parties, and arrange visits throughout the year. We remain in contact so the parents can watch their child grow through pictures and visits.”
Lance and Mandy have never hesitated to stretch themselves, to go beyond the minimum expected of them. Recently, they took turns driving from their Madison, Kansas, home to the NICU in Topeka to sit with the biological sister of two of their adopted children. Born prematurely, the infant remained hospitalized for two months, during which the couple visited five days a week. Once discharged, the baby went home with them.
“We were unable to have biological children, but we wanted to be parents badly,” says Lance. “We had talked about foster care before but hesitated to take the leap because we feared we’d get to attached to the kids. Turns out we were right. We really do get attached. But, while it stings when they leave, the pain is worth the chance to meet, know, and love them while we have them here.”
The experience has changed them personally, along with their family. As Mandy says,” We were able to have a permanent family by adopting three children from our care, and our extended family has been able to experience the journey along with us. Fostering has made Lance and me more thankful for the childhoods we had, while making us more aware of the need for safe places for children to go.”
And that’s what the Tally family wish everyone knew about children in foster care: “These are kids,” says Mandy, “and they are living with consequences brought on by other people’s decisions. Some think these kids are damaged somehow, and while there may be behavior, learning, or emotional hardships resulting from their experiences, they still need safety, security, and stability so they can thrive … Mostly, they need to be loved just for being them.”